It took a good bit of searching online to finally identify this particular sunflower growing under one of my huge white oaks as, Woodland Sunflower or ‘Helianthus Divaricatus’. I knew it was some type of sunflower or aster, but wasn’t sure exactly which. I was able to identify it thanks to the multi branching blooms, the size of the plant, the appearance of the blooms and leaves, and photos of different varieties online at the USDA’s plant ID website.
This plant has a spreading habitat, and fills the shady area under the great oak. It does get some afternoon sun here, and the plant seems happy to take over the whole area. The long lasting summer blooms make the lackluster foliage as it dies back bearable. This sunshine yellow perennial returns early every year, and since it grows about 2-3 feet tall it makes a great plant for height at the back of a shady bed or border.
I saw many of these native Woodland Sunflowers while visiting the mountains at Black Rock Mountain State Park, in Mountain City, GA. I will write more about that amazing adventure in an upcoming post. I visited 10 state parks in Georgia in 2018, and am working on articles about hikes at those parks, and the plants I found along the way.
Take stock of your seeds or supplies, and see what you want/need for the upcoming year. Our last average frost is April 15th, so I usually wait until then to plant my raised beds. Now is a great time to plan for & plant seeds indoors for your spring and summer veggie garden.
2. Seed starting vs buying plants
3. Container gardening.
ALWAYS HAVE DRAINAGE HOLES IN CONTAINERS
4. Raised beds.
My beds are 3’ x 8’. I have 3 wood beds. Leave bottom open to native soil-no landscape fabric wanted. Untreated wood for edibles
Dirt is ⅓ native soil, ⅓ soil conditioner, ⅓ compost-I like mushroom compost. Add in an organic fertilizer like Espoma garden tone when you build the soil. Can also use a pre mixed soil, or straight compost. Plant dwarf or smaller varieties.
Fertilize throughout the seaon. I like organic fertilizer for many reasons but here are three:
Better for plants- slower release, no burning, slower more even growth and better plants
Better for people-natural fertilizer creates tastier vegetables hands down, no chemical concerns
Better for the environment-only use what you need, and not more. Then the excess does not run off into the streams, rivers and lakes, and create problems.
5. Responsible Pest Control
Encourage good stewardship and organic gardening and pest control where possible. Pick them off, or spray with water as 1st pest control method. Always read the instructions thoroughly before treating anything
Let’s start off the New Year with a remembrance of the brilliant red fireworks of summer’s celebratory blooms. This stunning (and aptly named) Lobelia Cardinalis was a super special find from the Nightsong Native Plant Nursery sale last spring. Most of the pics are from blooming time which was mid August to nearly October.
Blooms just kept opening, marching up the ever growing stalk. I waited a while to transplant into the ground. I brought it home at the end of April, and planted in ground in mid July. Seemed to be growing nicely in the pot , so I waited. I dug a hole a bit deeper and wider than the current container, added some organic compost from my Earth Machine composter, and soil from my organic raised beds to fill the hole. Plentiful watering required during the super drought we had this summer and fall.
The mantis reminded me that there is an entire forest ecosystem at work right here in my own backyard garden. The link above takes you to an amazing paper prepared by Rachel G. Schneider about Georgia’s Forest Ecosystems. The mantis, butterfly, bee, and hummingbird love this plant; so do I, and even the cats (due to increased bird and butterfly activity).
It grew to over 3 feet tall, and I was awed and impressed by this amazing plant. This native to Georgia wildflower grows so well here, and I am thrilled to have in my backyard just under the overhanging shade of the oaks and hickories. It gets mostly full sun, with a touch of late afternoon shade in the worst heat of the summer sun. On some of the blazing hot days, it looked a little wilted in the direct sun, but quickly recovered.
This plant became the center of a flourishing ecosystem, in one season. I’m writing an article about the Tallassee Forest (my extended backyard). This area was sacred & special to the Native Americans, and has an interesting history. Many native plant and animal species thrive here – some only here. I’m so fortunate and excited to be able to experience this great state of Georgia, and to write about the native plants and ecosystems in my area!
The ‘Imaginary Worlds’ installation at The Atlanta Botanical Garden had just opened when my husband, mother-in-law, and I visited on May 5th, 2018. Plants are used to comprise the outer ‘skins’ on the figures. The exhibit is very creative, structurally interesting, and particularly beautiful to me, due to my love of plants.
We first enjoyed an open sun garden bursting with Poppies & Daffodils, Irises, & so many kinds of beautiful blooms. There were chairs set up for a wedding, and a bride taking photos above the garden area. What a lovely & gorgeous place for a wedding! I have not yet identified all of the flowers I took photos of, but will in the future.
The company that created the ‘Mosaiculture’ exhibit for the Atlanta Botanical Garden is International Mosaiculture of Montreal. There are some cool photos & video of their work on their website.
I was fascinated by this interesting new art form. I had not experienced plants this way before. This style of using various plants on the outside of a structure is very different than topiary, and added another layer to my enjoyment of plants as functional art.
In addition to the Mosaiculture installation, we also really were amazed by the Fuqua Orchid Center & the Conservatory. I could do any entire separate post on orchids, so I will just include some photos I took for now. The orchids were breathtaking.
I didn’t get a single photo of the edibles garden, unfortunately. I was so glad they included an edible garden, and I remember in particular the espaliered apple trees, the paw-paw tree, and the yellow blooming cabbages as standing out.
The Oakleaf Hydrangeas were absolutely outstanding, and there was a strong smell of Jasmine throughout much of garden. The Canopy Walk offered a unique perspective high up in the tree canopy, and the stroll was like a dream come true for a tree and forest lover like me. The entire afternoon was truly a delightful experience, and I can’t wait to return.
The shrub of many names known as Sweet bubby, Sweet shrub, Carolina allspice, Spice shrub, & Spice bush lives in the eastern US, and is a native plant to Georgia. I remember from my youth the scent of sweet shrub (as it was known to us in the mountains of Southwestern NC).
Your nose leads you to the unassuming sweet shrub. You see the dark burgundy tasseled flower pods. The perfume permeates the air, a unique, deep aroma. Reach out, rub the burgundy pods to release more amazing fragrance – unlike anything else on earth I have smelled so far. Tangy and pungent, but sweet and spicy.
Researching this post, I discovered a wealth of info about these fascinating plants. More info than I can address in this one post, but I will follow up with this plant. I bought the one pictured last year at a native plant sale, in late April. I planted it in a mostly shady spot, under a huge hickory facing southwest – with the hickory’s shady protection from the scorching afternoon sun.
I wondered if the plant was used medicinally, as many native plants were, and still are. I discovered that this plant does have Toxic alkaloids. Use caution. The Cherokee are known to use it for some medicinal properties. It may also have been used as a wolf poison.
Ellison also talks about ladies putting blossoms in their bosoms (bubby morphed from boobies) for perfume. I don’t remember them being in bosoms, but it probably helped cover the odor of snuff on the wind. Granny Hazel would dry them out, then put them in sachets for drawers, or bowls of potpourri.
I finally put the Oakleaf Hydrangea in the ground a few weeks ago. This post focuses on the challenges and triumphs of the process-including finding the right location, extreme summer drought and heat, and a little history of the plant.
I have written about William Bartram in previous posts, like my Finding Buffalo Creek project. He was the first to “discover”, and write about the Hydrangea Quercifolia (and many other native plants), in the 1700’s. I also wrote previously about another of the Bartram plants I brought home last year, one of them is known as the Ben Franklin Tree, aka ‘Franklinia Altamaha’.
I am excited to see what happens with this beautiful native plant. Fingers crossed the deer don’t find it there, and that it makes it through the winter into next season. Maybe it will bloom next year. Also, I think the leaves should change from green to red this fall-which hasn’t happened yet. Looking forward to changes, and new growth in the future!
My favorite Spring blooming plants from March & April include a few old favorites, and some new plants. I work at Cofer’s now, and I haven’t had much time to write, but will soon. My next post will be about the fifth year of raised bed garden planting-which I finally got done this past week.
Early March Bulbs sleep all winter & then awaken to Spring Sunshine
Late March-Early April Shrubs, Perennials, & Vines
late April After studying her reflection Nature improves upon her artwork
Wow! So much happens in the garden in those few months.
The blooming is over now, but the plants live on growing & storing energy for more blooms.
The summer garden work is over, and this crazy fall heat wave has broken. Now, I have time to catch up on writing about the plants that bloomed for the first time this year.
One of the spectacular native plants I bought at NightSong Native Plant Nursery’s Plant Sale last year, the Giant Purple Coneflower or ‘Echinacea Purpurea’, bloomed from June through August. There were five blooms total, and I recently cut off the dried seed heads to save for planting next year. I planted it in a 6 inch container last year, and am transplanting to in ground location today! (October 12th, 2018)
I found some fascinating info at my favorite wildflower site, US Wildflowers. The photos on this site are fabulous, and this site is an incredible free resource for plant identification.
Also, Southern Living has a great article by Gene B. Bussell on Purple Coneflower, detailing new hybrids being created, along with their uses in the southern garden.
I moved the plant from the container to the in ground location, where it will get good southern sun exposure. I will also be able to see the blooms through the deck railing. I transplanted on October 12th. All the leaves are gone now, but hopefully it will return next spring! I sprinkled one seed head all around the base of the plant, and saved the other four for planting next spring.
Tomatoes-Yellow Pear, Okra, Baby Sugar Pie Pumpkins,
Peppers- better pictures of later harvests to follow in my next post which will cover the progress from June-Aug.
1. Jalapeno 2.Habanero 3. Sweet Italian 4.Tabasco
Basil- 3 varieties 1.Thai 2. Cinnamon 3. Genovese
Borage, Dill, Fennel, Caraway, Cucumbers. Details to follow in next post.
I moved the Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Oregano from Raised Bed #1 to in ground locations very early in the spring, because I wanted to make room for more veggies in the bed, and those herbs are perennials which survive the winter here.
I really needed a new third bed, given how many seeds I started this year. I finally got it built in mid April-, but then didn’t get it filled and planted, until first week of May.
I’ve been needing a large Strawberry Pot, and I finally found the perfect one at
Cofer’s – my absolute favorite garden center of all time!
Below is a link to my transcription of my handwritten, in a hurry seed starting notes. Not very interesting, but I’m trying to record my data to improve my yields and timing for the future.
I will post the details of the garden progress from the months of June, July & August very soon. I have already harvested many beans, herbs and peppers! The garden work finally slowed down enough, and the weather is too hot to be outside working much anyway, so I am finally catching up posting.